[earthchanges] Re: Palm Beach Election
Date: 11/12/00 10:37:19 AM Pacific Standard Time
In a message dated 11/12/2000 10:23:08 AM Central Standard Time,
The Plot Thickens...
I don't normally send emails like this to a large
block of people, certainly when it comes to my family,
and certainly when the import of the issue makes it
seem like the letter might travel far and wide. But
so many people have asked about this story that it
seems important to send it out. This is the true
story of my mother, precinct clerk in Palm Beach
My mother was a precinct clerk in Palm Beach county,
Florida, election day of 2000. Mom's very good friend
Leah was a precinct clerk as well. Both of them were
incredibly upset during and after election day, before
anyone knew the import of these specific voters. And
my mother was convinced there were serious
irregularities long before they gained national
prominence, and she called me to say so.
I note this because some Republicans are now asking
if there were these irregularities, how come they
were not raised until after the election? In fact,
my mother and the other precinct clerks raised these
issues from the moment that the polls opened in the
morning; the problem is that the person they intially
called on was Theresa LePore, elections supervisor of
Palm Beach county. She was the source of the ballot
confusion, and was uninterested in the issue.
First, the paper ballot was extremely confusing to
these voters. Although both major parties got a
chance to review the card layout, it is not clear if
any had a chance to put the actual ballot in an actual
machine and punch the holes. The card is laid
horizontally as you vote, and it is hard to see the
holes as you punch them. And my mother, who
supervised the precinct she was in (this is a paid
position, and she reported directly to Ms. LePore)
said the card did not even fit correctly in the ballot
machine, so the holes in the card did not line up with
Anyone who thinks this was minor voter confusion has
never dealt with retirees in a West Palm Beach
retirement village in Florida, I promise you.
My mother, following the rules, said the poll workers
had been told not to help people with the cards, as it
might bias the voters. My mother witnessed many, many
people who voted incorrectly. Some stayed on a second
line and had their cards re-done, some punched the
second hole (and thus were probably thrown out), and
some found out they voted for Buchanan after they had
deposited their cards in the ballot box, and there was
thus nothing they could do.
Mom called me up to complain about this after the
elction, and she called me up again on Thursday, very
upset after reading a story in the New York Times (Nov.
9 2000, p. B6). The Times story states:
After numerous complaints were received on Tuesday
morning, Ms. LePore issued this directive to the
county's 106 precincts: Attention all poll workers.
Please remind all voters coming in that they are to
vote only for one (1) presidential candidate and that
they are to punch the hole next to the arrow next to
the number next to the candidate they wish to vote
Mom never received this directive, and she believes
that if anyone knew they could have helped people vote
their preference, the outcome would have been very
different. Instead, my mother and the others were
trying to do the right thing, and they felt that
helping explain the ballot to these people would have
been helping them to vote for Gore, something she
didn't feel was proper. These women are honest to a
Leah did receive the directive, but not until 4pm on
election day, and only by accident; someone was
coming to visit from the main office and told her
about it. In the mean time, my mother and Leah (and
most of the precinct clerks) had been desperately
trying to call the county office. They had been given
a phone number by Ms. LePore and told that the phone
line would be staffed throughout the day. They were
told to call if there were any problems.
Mom tried to call starting at 7:30am, calling straight
through when polls closed, but she got a busy signal
the entire time. But mom was at a polling station
with only a pay phone, so she had to deposit coins
each time, and with long lines waiting for her, she
was becoming increasingly frustrated.
Leah was precinct chief at the retirement village
where they live, and ran a polling station at the
clubhouse. Having a more modern facility, Leah tried
on the phone as well, and when she couldn't get
through, she called the operator to ask her why the
phone was busy. Leah had the presence of mind to get
the operator's number (history is made by people like
Leah) when the operator told her the phone was off the
hook, meaning nobody was on the line the entire day.
Evidently, the supervisor's office just didn't want to
hear the complaints.
Leah then faxed the supervisor's office with her
concerns at noon and again at 2pm. Nobody called Leah
back until 5pm, when she heard from Ms. LePore, with
the following words "don't bother me."
So as this news starts to be spun and re-spun, let me
tell you a few things I am certain to be true:
-I can't argue intent either way, but the supervisor=C6'
office in Palm Beach county is at the very least
unable to carry out an election in which these people
have their say
-These people started trying to fix the problem from
the moment polls opened, and were fought along the
way. This is not about crying about the election once
it is over.
It pains me to see the issue being politicized by both
sides. Gore has no place having his advisor Daley make
statements that after a recount, Gore will emerge
victorious; and Bush has no place saying that he is the
victor, or setting up a transition team. In fact, the
idea that Bush and his brother were together on
election night, with Jeb Bush promising to "deliver
Florida," draws a picture at least to me with the
semblance of impropriety, especially now that we have
seen the results so askew. I hope everyone will pay
attention to the facts here, and let the people of
South Florida have the same opportunity to vote that
the rest of us had.
You are free to send this to anyone you wish.